Monday, July 16, 2012

Batman, Marshall Fine, and being a film critic

This morning dealt a harsh blow to Christopher Nolan's already overhyped "The Dark Knight Rises", and one which may prove decisively crippling before the week is out. The floodgates recently opened regarding reviews for the trilogy conclusion, and that paved the way for several positive, even ecstatic, reviews to come rushing in. The excitement, hype, and one can assume general quality of Nolan's film have given it the best reviews of Nolan's career. It's something that I rather hope he deserves, and I would like to preface all this with as many well wishes as I can. Nolan puts undeniable effort into his films, as most who saw the goings on behind "Inception" will attest.

However, there will always be at least one negative review in the mix, and this time it isn't coming from Armond White, but from Marshall Fine of Hollywood and Fine, a site which is currently down, either for maintenance or avoidance of negative outlash. Any review where comparisons are made to "Transformers" is bound to get a certain amount of hostility, but given the overeager excitement that has been ballooning over the past several weeks, Fine got special treatment. Users over at Rotten Tomatoes took to the comment boards with their outrage, as they often do, in defense of the film. Defense, in this case, is wishing that Fine's site be pummeled into the ground, and pushing death threats upon him.

The reactions ranged from simply Bane quotes from the film to more serious and "original" shots, such as wishing Fine would "die in a fire" or be beaten "with a thick rubber hose into a coma." Rotten Tomatoes has enforced their policy to get rid of the comments, but not before they made their impact. They'll rather likely continue to make such an impact, with plenty people still rising to the comment boards with hateful remarks. Many have risen to Marshall Fine's defense, with plenty people feeling sorry for him, myself included. At the same time, I stand in inexplicable awe of the gamble he's made in publishing such a firmly negative review.

It's inexplicable for the fact that he is a film critic, and it's his job to give his complete and honest opinion, no matter how far in the minority it might be. In general, not only is that some I defend; it's something that I strive for. I've made no issue in the past of professing my strong opinions one way or the other for a film that audiences may have an opposing opinion of. I received such flack for "Snow White and the Hunstman", "Prometheus", and most recently "The Amazing Spider-Man". But I've doubted for a while, and still don't feel now that I will have negative thoughts regarding "The Dark Knight Rises". I can't help but applaud Marshall Fine for sticking to his guns in the face of a crowd of people he knew would rip him to shreds.

In respects to "The Dark Knight Rises", the film now has the misfortune of having several critics now prepped to walk into it with a bad taste in their mouths after the loyal Batman fans have skyrocketed Marshall Fine's review in the public eye. The film is currently standing with a majority of ecstatic reviews, but will it hold or will it plummet? I have a tendency to expect something of the former, and if it turns out that way, I will be genuinely disappointed. Some people already are, but such is the nature of being a film critic. Just as films like "The Dark Knight" will stun across the board in ways we could not have expected, others can fail to live up to expectations.

The job of a film critic is not to run from the opinions we hold in our hearts, as knowingly cheesy as that does sound. I learned that some time ago, and in spite of the heated debates I've gotten into since, I am more attached to that belief than ever. Marshall Fine's review may be in the minority, and in the end may not even hold much weight in terms of my own opinion. I'm hoping it won't, and that the film does prove entertaining and provocative in all the ways that we've come to expect. I respect what Marshall Fine's review stands for, which is individuality in professional criticism, in my interpretation anyway.

In respects to the ardent fans of Batman, I can only express a deep need to distance myself as far as possible from their ranks. Fandom in general, in fact, is reaching a gross and disgusting turning point, especially considering the kinds of films they are in support of. They are, for the most part, about selfless individuals who risk their lives for the betterment and freedom of humanity. In Nolan's "Batman" trilogy, it's so that Gotham's citizens don't find themselves lowered to the morally contemptuous act that took the life of Bruce's own parents. It's rather ironic, not to mention demoralizing, that the fans who feed the still inflating hype of the film are partaking in such similar acts of public hatred.

I refrain judgment on the film until I have seen it. Until then I don't have an opinion. Marshall Fine has seen the film. In all its simplicity, he has an opinion that he has every right to gloat about as anyone else.

1 comment:

  1. Hey he started in South Dakota, it's just too exciting for him.